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Utility of venous blood gases for the assessment of traumatic shock: a prospective observational study


Background ABG samples are often obtained in trauma patients to assess shock severity. Venous blood gas (VBG) sampling, which is less invasive, has been widely used to assess other forms of shock. The study aim was to determine the agreement between VBG and ABG measurements in trauma.

Methods Patients were enrolled at an Australian trauma centre between October 2016 and October 2018. Bland-Altman limits of agreement (LOA) between paired blood gas samples taken <30 min apart were used to quantify the extent of agreement. The impact of using only VBG measurements was considered using an a priori plan. Cases where venous sampling failed to detect ‘concerning levels’ were flagged using evidence-based cut-offs: pH ≤7.2, base deficit (BD) ≤−6, bicarbonate <21 and lactate ≥4. Case summaries of these patients were assessed by independent trauma clinicians as to whether an ABG would change expected management.

Results During the study period 176 major trauma patients had valid paired blood gas samples available for analysis. The median time difference between paired measurements was 11 min (IQR 6–17). There was a predominance of men (81.8%) and blunt trauma (92.0%). Median Injury Severity Score was 13 (range 1–75) and inpatient mortality was 6.3%. Mean difference (ABG−VBG) and LOA between paired arterial and venous measurements were 0.036 (LOA −0.048 to 0.120) for pH, −1.27 mmol/L (LOA −4.35 to 1.81) for BD, −0.64 mmol/L (LOA −1.86 to 0.57) for lactate and −1.97 mmol/L (LOA −5.49 to 1.55) for bicarbonate. Independent assessment of the VBG ‘false negative’ cases (n=20) suggested an ABG would change circulatory management in two cases.

Conclusions In trauma patients VBG and ABG parameters displayed suboptimal agreement. However, in cases flagged as VBG ‘false negative’ independent review indicated that the availability of an ABG was unlikely to change management.

  • trauma
  • assessment
  • majot trauma management

Data availability statement

Non-digital materials supporting this study are stored securely by the corresponding author. Data are available from the author (ARC) on request.

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